Sexual abuse case against Lingayat seer; Karnataka CM Bommai tight-lipped
Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai has remained tight-lipped about the high-profile sexual abuse case involving the chief pontiff of a major mutt in the state's Chitradurga. The pontiff—Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru—has been charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. However, Bommai refused to comment on the allegations against Sharanaru. He, however, stated a probe is ongoing and "the truth will come out."
- As soon as the case of sexual abuse against Sharanaru became public in Karnataka, the state's politicians made many attempts to avoid commenting on it, given the religious sentiments associated with the Lingayat mutt—Jagadguru Murugharajendra Vidyapeetha.
- The Karnataka government has also kept silent. However, some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, like BS Yediyurappa, dismissed the allegations even before police authorities revealed the case details.
CM Bommai has said the police registered a case under POCSO Act against Sharanaru and a separate kidnapping case against the mutt's ex-administrative officer in Chitradurga. "In such a situation, making comments or interpreting the case is not good for investigation," he said, addressing the media in Bengaluru. "The police have complete freedom, they will investigate and the truth will come out," he said.
According to NDTV, the Mysuru City Police has filed an FIR under the POCSO Act and other Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections against five people, including Sharanaru, in the alleged sexual assault case of two high school girls living in the monastery's hostel. A warden of the hostel was also booked in response to a complaint by a District Child Protection Unit officer.
The issue came to the fore after the victims reportedly approached Odanadi Seva Samsthe, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Mysuru, and narrated the abuse they had undergone. Following their complaint, the NGO approached the authorities, and a case was registered by the police. Reacting to the complaint, Murugha Mutt Advisory Committee member NB Vishwanath denied the charges against the pontiff.
Furthermore, Vishwanath also accused the mutt's former administrative officer and JD(S) leader, SK Basavarajan, of kidnapping and intimidating the victims. The warden has also reportedly filed a kidnapping case against Basavarajan and his wife Soubhagya in Chitradurga.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy said he was not shocked by the probe against the mutt's pontiff. He also stated there were multiple discussions regarding the matter about 5-6 months ago as well. "This issue should have been taken care of at the initial stage and should not affect the religious fraternity," Kumaraswamy told The Indian Express.